Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Grijalva Releases Canned Response About Vote on Healthcare

A friend sent me their response to an email received from Rep. Raul Grijalva regarding his health care vote on Sunday. Grijalva’s email would not accept my friend’s response so he asked me to post it here:
On Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 11:19 AM, Rep. Raul Grijalva wrote:

March 26, 2010
Dear Comrade (Sorry, that was added by me):
Thank you for contacting me regarding the health care reform bills that recently passed Congress, I appreciate hearing your concerns. Throughout this process my staff and I have been carefully monitoring the emails, letters and calls from the constituents of Arizona District 7. Please be assured that each message weighed heavily on my vote. 
My vote in favor of the health care reform package was about the needs of the district.  Congress could not dismiss the tremendous savings this bill will create. It is clear that health care expenditures in America are continuing to sky rocket - this bill will begin to control the costs.  It will save the government $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years and put an end to medical insecurity for 32 million uninsured working people who will be covered under this legislation. Those are milestones we should all be proud of today. 
Before I came to Congress and for the past year during the debate over health care reform, I have fought for a better, fairer, more affordable American health care system.  There's no denying that it's been a difficult process and I've been able to keep working through it with the much-appreciated support of the many millions of Americans who believe with me that we must do better than the status quo. Ultimately, the choice before the House was simple: pass the Senate bill and the reconciliation amendments or vote the Senate bill down and maintain that status quo.  My decision, in the end, was simple. I could not ignore the 32 million uninsured Americans, the constituents I hear from everyday that have been discriminated against by an insurance company, those that have lost their homes because of medical bills, those that have been driven into bankruptcy and those that are fed up with our current broken system. I'm happy to join groups like the American Nurses Association, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and many others in declaring that they have suffered long enough and it's time for a change.
Our status quo is simply unsustainable. The people of this country have been crying out for Congress to act. Because we acted to improve health care for the American people, insurers will be forced to stop denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions. No company can cut off benefits because it wants a bigger profit margin. Insurers will be required to treat individuals more equally regardless of age, race and gender. Medicare will be kept solvent, seniors will not have to pay for preventive services and they will finally be able to afford their medications. This bill committed significant support to community health centers around the country that provide medical care to the most vulnerable in society. The bill mandates that insurance companies spend a significant majority of their revenue on providing care, not on overhead or executive bonuses. This package as a whole is an important and impressive step in our long fight for a fairer, more equal America.
While this bill is the beginning of improving the American health care system - it is not the end. It establishes once and for all that health care in this country is a basic right, not a privilege. Our system can be improved in the future, and it will be. I will make fighting for those improvements a priority as long as I am in Congress, because as much work as we've done over the past year, more remains before us. Major advances in our quality of life are rarely easy. They are not achieved in a single stroke. This bill is a foundation that we will look back on in five years, 10 years and 20 years and thank ourselves for laying now.
Raul M. Grijalva
Member of Congress
Rep. Grijalva,

Thank you for your complete, if delayed response to my email. I understand your concerns about health care in Arizona. I have seen the crowded emergency room in Yuma, experienced the pressures of increased health insurance costs for my family, and argued over the phone with insurers over deductible categories. I agree with you that the cost of health care coverage in this country is at a crisis. But is the solution to high costs really more government?
It is commonly understood in the private sector that new regulations create new and more complex problems. For example, the state of Arizona estimates the health care plan you say is good for our district will actually cost the state of Arizona $400 million dollars? How does a guarantee of insurance in 10 years justify the loss of 42,000 jobs in Arizona to begin paying for it now?

I am also wondering if you could explain to me how the House Reconciliation Bill will save 1.2 trillion dollars, when the CBO estimates that you cite are for the Senate bill, passed prior to House reconciliation, which exempts large portions of the Senate prepayments, increases benefit provisions and has never been submitted to the CBO? In fact outside estimates of the Reconciliation Bill estimate its cost at $2 trillion, far beyond any cost "savings" estimate of either the Senate or House versions.

Finally, I recall that when you visited Yuma this Fall and spoke, and in numerous interviews with the media in Washington, you insisted that the public or government funded option was the only way that health care costs could be contained. You have also stated that tort reform was needed to lower costs. Neither the Senate bill nor the House Reconciliation contains either of these features. Because you have been so adamant about these issues, I am wondering: Have you have actually run these numbers or just trust the Democratic budget estimates? And because I have heard the numbers and phrases in your letter repeated over and over this week, I am also wondering: are you truly convinced that this bill is the best thing for your constituents? Or are you just listening to House leaders and hoping it is?

I certainly believe insurance companies should not be able to drop insurance for pre-existing conditions and that people without insurance need to have adequate access to health care. I also believe strongly that seniors should not have to travel to Mexico for health care because costs there are lower than the deductibles they pay for Medicare here. However, I believe these problems could have been solved without an estimated 2 trillion dollar price tag and a burden placed on states who are already struggling to balance their budgets. In my eyes, the benefits you describe are not worth the costs 5, 10, or even 20 years from now, when my children and yours may still be paying for them.


 A Concerned Yuma Resident

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